It’s ‘dot.complicated’ – 21st Century Tech-Life Balance

Do you know what ‘FOMO’ stands for? Neither did I until recently.

Fear-Of-Missing-Out. FOMO. Another four-letter acronym (make sure you get them the right way around) to describe people who are driven to twitch for their smart phones over 100 times a day. In our always-on-always-connected digital age, we can share and like at will, but it can feel hard to keep up. IMG_5304As this Health & Safety poster demonstrates, we can become so fearful of missing out on the latest trending topics, we might even screw up our primal fight-or-flight response!  (Shared by cool news-feeders, Mashable). Whether it’s a tweet, an update, a like, an inbox alert, a direct message, a push notification, a comment-on-a-comment, or friend request, we can easily become overwhelmed by our own digital existence.


For decades, time and motion study gurus have told us how to manage our time effectively, prioritise, leave work behind and cherish our home lives. In the past 5 years, all of those ground rules have been blown apart. In the new world order, our digital lives can so easily compete for attention with our real-world lives. Could this be the end of the human race as we know it?

Mark Zuckerberg’s Sister Should Know

Having pondered these e-conundrums for sometime now, especially in trying to figure out exactly how much tech is good for me and my family, I read Dot Complicated by Randi Zuckerberg.  A friend, gave this book to me, knowing how intrigued I am by what the Digital Age means to us and how we live, work, love and parent. IMG_5373(Note, he gave me a hard-backed book, one that you can pick up and put down, not the Kindle version. Even more appealing was the fact that the book goes perfectly with my table cloth – can you spot it?)

Aesthetics aside, reading this book reminded me of the good sense I know I started out with when it came to questions about my on-line life. Achieving what Ms Zuckerberg describes as ‘Tech-Life Balance’ made me re-assess how well I live by some important principles – here goes:

  • Giving undivided attention to your loved ones is the greatest of gifts.
  • Tech should make you closer to friends, not to higher numbers of ‘friends’.
  • Going phone-less – put it down and leave it there, put it out of sight when you’re with others.
  • Technology is not the end – it’s the means to make good happen for you and others you care about.
  • Good digital habits begin at home – just like driving, what our children observe us doing will shape how they use tech as adults.
  • The World Will Not End – if you are not always on-line.

So give yourself a break, now you’ve finished reading this blog post – log-out, put your tech in a cupboard and go on outside to sample the real world, I know I am!


Photo credit: Paul Keating





It’s ‘dot.complicated’ – 21st Century Tech-Life Balance — 3 Comments

  1. It’s spooky how well the book matches your table cloth ! – I think I must have seen that table cloth and subconsciously remembered it.. though if you had asked me, I would have said it was a scarf or a coat … Anyway , really glad you got something out of the book.. I thought you would …

    Thanks for being my guide through the humanity of technology my friend !

  2. It strikes me that Human Beings are prone to addiction. We may feel smug that we have avoided addiction to Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling and Smoking. However, we are all hard wired to be addicted to needing other human beings. This manifests itself as FOMO, as you say.

    Now there are healthy and unhealthy ways to need other human beings… Sadly Facebook, Twitter et al do not differentiate or care to differentiate between the healthy and unhealthy. I guess you would say they leave it to market forces. There is no conscience here.

    The availability of these services on phones and tablets as well as computers is the last straw – Like a hip flask for an alcoholic – you see people everywhere barely able to walk or move without checking their iPhones. These people have an addiction.

    Like alcohol, this technology addiction has bad side effects – Physical RSI injuries , Limited attention span, Emotional anxiety, Lack of real Emotional engagement.

    Blind to these side effects, We not only expose ourselves to, but also our children. Believing we are taking them to a safe place where they can play in physical – in fact we are leading them to a very dangerous on line space – where neither we or they are safe.

    Recently Dong Nguyen – the founder of a game called Flappy Birds withdrew his online game on the basis that it is too addictive. This seems to have left many people and the media very confused – He was making $40,000 a day from his game.

    It seems to me that in Dong we have here is a true leader, someone who truly cares about human beings and their fate. Someone who understands the damage that this technology addiction can do to our still primitive monkey based brains. Someone who would not trade $40,000 a day for the mental wellbeing of millions. A decent man.

    The Zuckerbergs did not make that choice – With their exposure to American free market principals – do they understand it ? Does publishing a book on how not be an addict clear them of this crime against millions – or just make them cynical like a tobacco firm putting a health warning on a cigarette packet while increasing the addictive nicotine content ?

  3. We spend too much time interfacing with people online – Watch anyone waiting in a shopping centre or for a meeting to start … The default activity in a moment of downtime is to reach for the phone and check what is happening – FOMO as you say.

    The problem is perhaps not that technology is too advanced, but that it is not advanced enough.

    The next wave of technology will always be on and in our faces – Google Glasses – Google and iPhones built into your car desktop and popups on your desktop.

    A nightmare – well perhaps, this could drive us all mad.

    There is hope though – Software is getting smarter and is getting better at working out what is relevant to us at particular times – Look at virtual assistant software like “Google Now ”

    When these smart software filters get better, they will relieve our FOMO – as we start to trust them to tell us what is relevant and useful to us at a time that it is appropriate for us – They will perhaps free us from our FOMO

    A darker thought comes when we wonder if we should trust a smart filter produced by companies like Google ? Will it be handing over too much control of our view of the world – Perhaps it will choose that stories of Google tax evasion are not of interest to us, but that paid for advertising is …. – How far could a smart filter change our view of the world – ?